Visitors to Alexandra Central Mall see them as the security guards, cleaners and technicians tasked with ensuring that things at the mall are in working order and running smoothly.
To a group of children who attend a music school on the same premises, however, they are the uncles and aunties whose hard work each day gives them a clean, comfortable and safe place to learn.
Keen to show their appreciation, the children, along with their teachers and parents, recently prepared a special surprise for these unsung heroes.
A post published on Dec 10 on the Teacher Ping School of Music’s Facebook page described the operation: “For the past three weeks, parents and kids have been secretly bringing goodies to school… as supplies for goodie bags we intended to give to these unsung heroes.”
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Having raised funds together for needy children living abroad before, the school’s founder Goo Chui Ping felt that it was timely for the school community to see how kindness can be spread closer to home this time.
Speaking to The Pride, she said: “There are many folks here that we can be kinder to. I also wanted the kids to experience giving directly to others, because kindness really starts at home.”
So Goo had a brainwave – why not do something nice to appreciate everyday heroes they were familiar with?
She promptly approached the mall’s manager to find out the names of some 22 staff members, and sent her students’ parents a food list via text, requesting that they consider donating “one or two” items.
To her amazement, they responded so enthusiastically that the goodies for each hero had to be packed into large boxes, instead of bags.
Goo also recalls a memorable encounter with a young student whose mother was overseas at the time.
“I explained our idea, and told her the security guards take care of the mall so she can walk safely from the carpark to the school. There were also the cleaners who keep the toilets clean for her to use, and the technicians who keep the air-conditioner in the mall working. I told her that these people do good things for us so we can feel comfortable and safe.”
The child listened quietly, and when she finished, she made a beeline for the food cupboard in her home, collecting packs of milk and potato chips which she then handed to her.
“When I pointed out to her that these were actually her food, she told me that it’s OK because she has enough to share. I saw that she was happy to share her blessings with others.”
In addition to preparing the goodie boxes, Goo’s young students also designed handmade cards, personalised with each mall staff’s name.
And because the staff were asked to come by the school without being told why, it was a huge surprise for each of them to be presented a box of goodies by the children.
Goo recalls with a chuckle: “When they saw the box, they assumed that the goodies inside would be shared with their colleagues. After we told them that we had prepared one box for each hero, it was a priceless moment where they were both stunned and joyful!”
The gesture of appreciation even came full circle, as one of the guards was so moved that he made handcrafted gifts for the children after that.
“One student actually showed me the gift she received from the security guard, and told me that an act of goodwill sparks another.”
Given the project’s success, the school intends to take the same initiative to Macpherson Mall, where its other branch is located. There are also plans to keep it going beyond this year.
“Many of the recipients felt touched and there were lots of smiles to go around that day. The kids and their parents really loved the idea, so next year, we will do it again!”